Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Cameron Recommends: Top 8 Fiction books of 2015

As I said before, I am giving everyone some posts about some of my favorite things from last year. This post will be about my top 8 favorite fiction books from 2015. Why 8 do you ask? Well, this is a very, very hard post to write, because so many of the books I read last year were oh so good. I couldn't narrow down to 3, I couldn't narrow it down to 5. So I went with 8. Some of these are sequels or parts of series that I have very much enjoyed. Please let me know in the comments below if you have read any of these books or let me know what your favorite book from 2015 was. Without further ado, here is the list:

Number #8 - World War Z

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie WarI listened to the non-abridged 12 hour audio book, and it is amazing. The story of the Zombie war is told through personal interviews with survivors. For the audio book they got different voice actors to do each interview. This made the story so much more compelling and immersive. It's a well thought out, well written book. Brooks has seriously considered how a zombie infection could start and spread. He also does a fantastic job speculating on how different people, governments and cultures around the world would react to it. All-in-all this is a fascinating read (or listen). I would strongly suggest the audiobook. (one warning, some of the interviews do include strong language, I struggled a little bit with those sections but there aren't many of them)

Number #7 - The Devil's Only Friend 

The Devil's Only Friend (John Cleaver, #4)This is the Fourth book in the John Cleaver series of books, also known as the I am Not a Serial Killer series. I love this series and I am so happy that Dan Wells has returned to the character of John Cleaver. This story was so engaging, though this story isn't as great as the original three books. Wells has said that this book is really the first book in a new trilogy set in this world. Guys, I can only really tell you to read these books. I can't write much about the plot of this book without spoiling the previous three because they do build on each other. This entire series will be getting their own post here soon. (though I may wait until next year when the final book is released). Also, look at the cover art, so pretty. Read all these books, I wouldn't start with this one, start with "I am not a Serial Killer".

The Autumn Republic (Powder Mage, #3)Number #6 - The Autumn Republic

This is the third book in the Powder Mage Trilogy and it is great. If you read it, the series only gets better with each book, making this book the best one. I can't talk about a lot of things because it is the third book in a very exciting and twisting trilogy.  This is categorized as flintlock fantasy, so fantasy set in a time similar to the times around the revolutionary war. Fantasy with pistols and somewhat more modern type of warfare. It's simply fantastic. Read this trilogy. I hear that McClellan is writing another series set in the same world and I am so excited to read it.

Shadows of Self (Mistborn, #5)Number #5 - Shadows of Self

Yeah, I know. Nobody is surprised to see a Brandon Sanderson book as part of this list. Sanderson is my favorite author. I love his books. This book is the second book in the Allow of Law series which is set in the Mistborn world, after the original Mistborn trilogy. So really, before you read this book, you should go read those books. This book delves into Wax and Wayne's past and, more importantly, into the consequences of those past events. I know that is a lot of homework but I have loved the Mistborn books, they might be my favorite books of all time. Go, go read Sanderson's books.


And Then There Were NoneNumber #4 - And Then There Were None

Wow was this good. So good. I was totally engrossed by this book. I listened to it on audiobook and listened to the whole thing in less than three days. I can see why many people consider this to be Agatha's opus. It is masterful. The whole time I was flipping back and forth as to whom I suspected and how events were going to unfold. I believe that this book was strong influence on the plot of the film Clue. It is a claustrophobic and thrilling book. Ten people with mysterious and possibly dark pasts are stranded on the island and it appears as though one of them might be a murderer. I wish I could discuss this further but I fear spoiling it. In short, go read this. As an interesting historical note, And Then There Were None is the third title that this book has had since its release in 1939. Originally, it was Ten Little N-words. Soon after it was changed to Ten Little Indians. And then to its current title. All of the titles are from the children's poem that is central to the story. It's obvious why the title was changed. It's a classic.

Number #3 - The Martian


The MartianI heard it said before I read this book that it is a mix of Castaway and Apollo 13. I kind of disagree with that statement, and mainly because I feel it's nothing like Castaway. That is a good movie, but my favorite character is a volleyball. Now, props to Tom Hanks for making me love his volleyball but overall the movie is kind of forgettable (please don't hate me, it's a fine movie but I'm in no rush to see it again). The Martain is nothing like that. Yes, it is a survivor story but this is one about a man that is compelling on his own, who is smart, humorous and caring. The Apollo 13 comparison, that I can understand as this is very much an astronaut story and getting to see science up close is great. But Apollo 13 takes place over a few days this takes place over a few years. The makeshift job that Apollo had to do to get home was great to see but this book is about a man having to that for a long time. It is thrilling, suspenseful and fun.

The best part about this book is it brings to the forefront two of mankind's most admirable traits: tenacity and compassion. First the tenacity (I think it's obvious but here we go), Mark Watney's courage, ingenuity and humor in the face of overwhelming trials and near-death experiences are amazing. He is such a likable character. Second is the compassion. When listening to the beginning of this book I wondered if it would be like castaway, where the main character is alive and nobody knows it. But the great part about this book is the view we get of NASA and, through them, the world's struggles and hopes that Mark will make it. The cost to save him was astronomical (see what I did there, tee hee hee), and everyone was willing to pay it, no questions asked. I love that! Also, THE SCIENCE IS FANTASTIC. Of course it is a sci-fi book but so much of the science was spot on. I loved it! People need to listen to this book, rather than just read it because some people might be tempted to skip over some of the science stuff. DON'T SKIP IT. It is great. Science is cool.

I warn some more sensitive readers that there is a bit of language here and there but not excessive and not without purpose. Please go read this book, and when you do let's talk about it.
A Monster Calls

Number #2 - A Monster Calls

I hesitate to write this review on this book. I hesitate because I feel it reveals more about me then I want a random person on the inter-webs to know. But here we go anyway. I don't believe I've ever had a more cathartic experience with a book. The Truth in it hit me so hard that I cried. This book isn't easy, it isn't happy, and it isn't scary. Simply put, it is beautiful, tragic, and sad. However, the sadness of it might help you. It might help you feel less like a monster.

Number #1 - The Aeronaut's Windlass


The Aeronaut's Windlass (The Cinder Spires, #1)I started reading Jim Butcher's Dresden Files books in 2015 as well and have very much enjoyed what I've read so far (I actually just caught up and am now current with the series as of October). Butcher's writing in that series is neat, and engaging first person narrative. When I heard he would start on a steampunk-ish novel I got excited. Steampunk is a genre that I am fascinated by but have rarely found anything in it that I have really loved. I expected a similar structure to the Dresden Files. Not so. The Aeronaut's Windlass is written in 3rd person limited, which I quite enjoy. He skillfully makes the characters engaging, and the story is also quite exciting. But oh my, what really captivated me was the world Butcher has crafted. It's so interesting, well thought out, and clever. I loved it, especially the airships. I can't get over how much I enjoyed this book. Everyone, go read it. You won't be disappointed. (As a personal note, I listened to this one on Audible and the narrator did an excellent job)

Saturday, November 5, 2016

My Beloved Dog, Kramer

Today, November 5th 2016, would have been Kramer's 15th birthday. I miss him so, so much. Earlier this year, on March 14, 2016, our family had to do one of, if not the hardest, thing we have ever done. We said goodbye to Kramer. Kramer was our first family pet, a black miniature schnauzer. Kramer had not been doing well. He was over 14 years old (the average age for a schnauzer is 11-14). He had already been deaf for about a year or longer. A few months back we noticed him behaving oddly. He wondered around, he didn't get excited when my mom, brothers or I came home. He started losing control of his bladder. So, back in January we took him in to see the vet. At that time we found out that Kramer was experiencing two things: Sundowners syndrome (basically dementia for dogs) and the onset of congestive heart failure. We were told at that time that Kramer might have six months, but more likely only a couple of weeks. We were told what symptoms to look out for. Over the past few weeks those symptoms started to show themselves. He lost even more control of his bladder, to the point where we had to put a diaper on him. He lost weight, 10% of his total body weight. His back legs would shake uncontrollably when he stood. His whole body started to bow. He became anxious and restless, signs that he was in pain. His breathing started to become more labored. He could still walk around, and at times acted normal, but he was declining so fast. As a family, we decided that he only had a few weeks left, and rather than wait until he was in total agony, we made the appointment to put him to sleep. He went peacefully, it took maybe a minute. The day of, I picked Chandler up from work around 1:30pm and got to the house around 2. My Mom came home soon afterwards. We all just hung out in my parents room and shared some stories about Kramer, talked about how much we loved him, took one-on-one pictures with him and said our goodbyes. For the last half hour or so we just all laid there in mournful silence. My Dad made the decision not to go to the Vet with us, he felt he would just get in the way. So my two brothers and mother and I went. After picking out the urn, paw print, and other things we took him back. He went peacefully. It was so hard to see, it felt like a piece of me was ripped away. 

To me, Kramer was the embodiment of devotion, loyalty, innocence, and unconditional love. Chandler said, and I agree with him, that in a lot of ways Kramer kept our family together. He loved us all so much, and so well. He kept our spirits up, especially during hard times. At times, when I had to be there to comfort and take care of my family he was the only on whom I could rely for comfort. Sometimes, when I was depressed I would go to my room and just lay in bed. After a few minutes, Kramer would scratch at my door until I opened it and then he'd jump on my bed and cuddle up with me. He was always so excited to see me whenever I went home. On many trips to my parent's house the highlight for me was just seeing and being with Kramer. Oh how I loved him and oh how I'm going to miss him. So much, so, so much.

I feel I should write down some of Kramer's history here. That way I'll have it, along with the many pictures my family and I have of him. Kramer entered our lives on December 25th, 2001. He was just 8 weeks old, having been born on November 5th of that same year. My mom had been against us getting a dog for years. However, her heart had been softened by the women she was visiting teaching, who got a puppy poodle. My dad saw this as an opportunity to finally get our family a dog. My dad had a miniature schnauzer growing up, and wanted another schnauzer. We found a lady who, if I remember right, lived in either Spanish Fork or Springville. Dad picked out Kramer, and a few weeks before Christmas let me in on the secret that we were getting a puppy for Christmas. I went with my dad to buy everything we'd need for a new puppy. We hid all of it in the shed that was outside our house. I got to see Kramer about a week before Christmas. Then on Christmas day, the woman who had Kramer delivered him to our door. It was in the afternoon, after we had already opened up all of our presents. I answered the door, I had been waiting by it all day, and took Kramer in my arms. He was so small, and just adorable. My mom was confused, who would come to the door on Christmas. Then she spotted Kramer in my arms and her heart melted. She let out a huge "Awww" and picked him up. She was hooked and Kramer was a mamma's boy from that day on. We had a family vote to decide on his name, I remember one of the names that was in the running was Buzz. The name Kramer (obviously) was chosen. One of my earliest memories of him was that day, we put him in a little kennel my Dad and I had gotten for him (trying to kennel train him lasted maybe a week). The kennel was in the kitchen, and at that time we had hardwood flooring in the kitchen. Kramer stepped out and slipped on the hardwood, let out a cute little yelp of surprise and fear and then ran back into the kennel. He was such an adorable puppy. I remember that day, on Christmas, it was my responsibility to take Kramer out to go potty. We went out into a small square of shoveled cement in the backyard and hung out for a little bit, waiting for him to go potty and when he finally did I praised him, as you are supposed to when the poop in the right place. He was so happy he jumped up and down. Eventually we got Kramer trained to the point where he would mostly go potty in the area outside that was the garden.

About 2 months after we got Kramer we decided that we would crop his ears. Cropping is where part of the skin of a dog's ear is removed to give it a triangular look. At the time, there was a possibility that we could show Kramer in dog show's, he had perfect proportions and several different people who knew a lot about schnauzers told us he was one of the best looking schnauzers they had ever seen. My dad's schnauzer had cropped ears as well and we decided we wanted to have the procedure done to Kramer as well. Sometime during the operation, we aren't sure when exactly, something happened to Kramer. He went into a comma and was in one for a while. After he woke up, we got him back with his poor little ears bandaged up. Something was most definitely wrong. Kramer could only walk around in circles, clockwise circles to be exact, and only after someone helped him onto his feet. His head bobbed a little up and down and he just turned his head from side to side constantly, in order to get him to eat or drink you had to follow his head movement with the bowl. After about a week Kramer was still in really bad shape. It was at this point that we had a family meeting and decided that we would fast for Kramer, but if after the fast he had not improved then we would put him to sleep. The next day we abstained from food and drink. On the morning after the fast Kramer was just as he had been before the surgery. We were all so relived. It was this experience that gave me a testimony of fasting and prayer.

Kramer was a really smart dog. We of course taught him sit and stay. But more than that, Kramer was sensitive to our needs and often sought us out. I remember my Dad and I teaching Kramer kisses. We took butter and put a thin film of it on the back of our hands and then called Kramer over and let him smell it. Then as he began licking our hands we said "kisses" then we took our hand away and the other person did the same thing. I taught Kramer to shake. I took some bread (Kramer loved bread) and would hold his paw with my had and shake it and then give him a treat. After just two or three times working on this he had it. He was also very good at the come command and stay command. I remember going to get our family photo taken at the mall. First we took Kramer on a walk (he loved walks, more on that later). Once we arrived at the mall we took him around the mall to where there were plants in the parking lot and surrounding area until he had run out of marking his territory ammo. Then we went inside. It was my job to hold Kramer during the photo. We wanted it to look natural, so I wasn't holding him much. The photographer kept calling Kramer's name to get him to look at her for the photo. Problem was, Kramer always went to the person who was calling his name. Finally, I had to tell the photographer to look at Kramer and say "Stay, stay" and after that we had a perfect family photograph.

As I said above Kramer loved going on walks. When he was younger he was so excited that he would pull against his leash, nearly choking himself, to get to the next mailbox, tree or shrub that he could sniff. I remember on one of the very, very few scary instances (I can only think of this happening twice actually) when Kramer got out of the yard and got lost, that I found Kramer just on the north side of the house. There was snow on the ground He was kind of laying down in the snow, whining. It looked to me that he had taken himself on a walk around the block and had gotten to the point where he didn't know where we were.

Kramer had a pretty good time with other dogs before we got his son Eight. We had some friends in our ward named the Bills. The Bills had a giant dog, which I believe was a husky. It was easily 4-6 times the size of Kramer. He and Kramer had a ton of fun playing with each other, Kramer would run for a bit to get speed and then jump at the much larger dog, which would just lick Kramer with his huge tongue. Kramer would come away from these play-dates soaking in slobber. One time we were dog sitting the Bill's giant husky and we went out for a little bit. Naturally we left the dogs outside to play. When we got home we found the husky 1/3 of the way through Kramer's tiny doggy door which led into the house. It was quite a lot of work to get him out. Kramer just played with the dog while we were working how to get him out.

Now for a few things that Kramer either loved or hated. 
Kramer loved walks. As I said he would get so excited while on the walk he would nearly choke himself on his leash. He loved walks so much that our family couldn't say the word "walk" around him without him yelping in excitement. If you had already said the word and put his leash on him you had better have had your shoes and jacket on already, Kramer would chew on his leash until you got out of the door (I don't know how many leashes he destroyed this way). 
Kramer hated water, especially baths. I'm not sure when it started. I do remember one of the first times that the sprinklers came on in the back yard when he was out there. He barked at them while trying to find a place where he wouldn't get wet.  I eventually went and picked him up and brought him to the patio. Kramer hated baths, after we would give him a bath and brush his hair he would go outside and sulk for a half hour or so. I remember that he grabbed his brush, took it outside and chewed it up, I think that he thought that would stop the baths and brushes. 
Speaking of baths and brushes, Kramer hated getting his haircut. Originally, the groomer that we used for Kramer lived in Spanish Fork. Most of the time, I would be the one that would take him there. Another thing Kramer loved, car rides. Oh he loved sticking his head out. Anyways, Kramer would be having the time of his life on the car ride. Then we would pull up to the groomer's house and about 10ft. from the door Kramer would realize where he was and pull at his leash. It was always so sad to leave him there. He always did look so good afterwards though. Luckily he was quick to forgive. Eventually, our vet prescribed a mild sedative to help Kramer relax while being groomed. 
Kramer loved looking out the window. He had his own spot on the couch where he would sit and look out the window. He'd occasionally bark but not often. There was a spot, just in front of Kramer's ears on his forehead, that Kramer loved to be petted, especially when he was younger. His eyes would roll back in pleasure and he'd lean into whomever was scratching him. 

Most of all Kramer loved us. He showed this all the time. He was so excited to see me whenever I came in the door. He would jump up on the couch and snuggle up next to me, while I scratched his ears, or just petted him. When he came upon me sleeping or taking a nap, he'd jump up on the bed and sometimes he'd just lay down next to me. Most of the time he'd lightly paw at your shoulder or face until you lifted up the covers and then he'd snuggle up right next to you. 

As I said above, Kramer was, is, the embodiment of pure love, devotion and loyalty. I hope, oh so dearly, to see him again on the other side. I love you Kramer, I'll always remember you. 


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Cameron Recommends: Top 3 Non-Fiction Books of 2015

Everyone, hello! As promised here are some lists to cover some of my favorite things from 2015. I'll be beginning with non-fiction. I have in the last few years begun to read more non-fiction releases. So to begin with, here are my top 3 favorite non-fiction books I read from 2015:

Number 3 - How Star Wars Conquered the Universe by Chris Taylor
Image result for How Star Wars Conquered the UniverseThis was a very, very comprehensive look at George Lucas and Star Wars. The first 30% of the book is mainly about George Lucas' early life and the many sources that influenced the creation of the greatest science fiction franchise ever (sorry Star Trek fans). The next part of the book goes into the actual making of all the Star Wars films and cartoons. It goes into the selling of Lucasfilm to Disney and the beginning of production on The Force Awakens. Throughout the book, the author goes into the influences Star Wars has had on fans, culture and Hollywood. I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially where the author summarizes early drafts of the scripts.

Number 2 - You're Never Weird on the Internet by Felicia Day
Image result for You're Never Weird on the Internet bookI absolutely loved this book, 5 stars. I listened to this one (Felicia Day narrates it herself and she is hilarious). Felicia Day has had an interesting and pretty remarkable life. From being home-schooled, to being accepted to a University on a full-ride violin performance scholarship at the age of 16, to being the mind behind one of the biggest youtube channels there is. What I loved most about this book (other than Felicia's charm and humor) was her honesty. She candidly talks about video game addictions and the harm it had on her. She talks about what got her out of that and how she accepted it. She then talks about the mental health issues she experienced and how she got help for those. Her candor on these topics, mixed with humor, is refreshing and encouraging. I recommend this to anyone and everyone. 
One content warning, there is a chapter in the book on Felicia's experience with gamergate. In it, she reads some of the messages that were sent to her during this time. They are disgusting, and consequently full of terrible language. I feel the chapter is important, as it shows one of the uglier sides of the internet, but more sensitive people may want to skip it. 
If you know anyone who is or who has struggled with video game addiction, or mental health/anxiety issues I would recommend you gift them this book. It is funny but I believe it could help. I was lucky enough to get a signed copy of this from Felicia Day herself at SLC Comic Con 2015 and couldn't be happier about it.


Number 1 - What If? by Randall Munroe
Image result for what if? randall munroe
If you haven't been to XKCD the website you are missing out on some very funny and nerdy stuff. (Though I'd say only about 60% of his comics actually make me chuckle) This book, by the author of XKCD, is fantastic. Using his very popular website, Munroe has gathered several absurd, science-based questions, like "How much force power can Yoda produce?" or "What if a rainstorm dropped all of its water in a single giant drop?". Munroe answers these questions using his background as a physicist at NASA and the help of many different professional sources. A lot of the answers result in the end of human civilization, which is fun. But it makes for an interesting and awesome read. I would recommend this to anyone who has ever wondered "What if . . "

Have any of you read these books?

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A quick update and plans for the future

Hello readers both old and new, how've you been?

I know it's been over a year, again. I'm just not very great st keeping up with this blog. It's not like I haven't been writing reviews, I have but I've been writing them over at Goodreads. I'll post a bunch of post a bunch of these kn here, I'll probably do a post here soon on my best/worst books, movies, and games of 2015. Hopefully, that'll make up for my absence.

I've also got a draft of an obituary for my beloved dog Kramer that I'm still working on (that's been emotional and difficult to write). The nostalgic, journal-ly side of me still wants to write a series of blogs on important people, places and events in my life. I want to be very candid in these, write about both the very good and bad. This has the potential to offend some people. But I want to be honest about these experiences. It's not like a ton of people are reading this blog anyways.

I want to keep the focus of his blog on things I am passionate about, so I'll keep doing Cameron Recommends and Cameron Doesn't Recommend posts. But I want to use this as a pseudojournal too. I know my writing isn't poetic or really all that great but I'd like to have a place to point loved ones too who want to learn more about me. Anyways, that's all for now. I'm going to start drafting some posts.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Cameron Recommends: The Lathe of Heaven


Wow, I'm back after a very long hiatus. I know, I know I promised that this wouldn't happen anymore. Well sorry, it did. Life got busy. Anyways, I'm back. I'll try to get on here more regularly, probably twice a month with new recommendations, and possibly a new segment entitled "Cameron's Cooking Recommendations".  Be excited. For now we'll go with the old standby, reviewing books.

I would probably give The Lathe of Heaven 3.5 stars. It did keep my attention really well. It is considered by many to be a classic science fiction story.

The main idea of the story is the ability of George Orr. He can change reality, retroactively, with his dreams. This idea is explored throughout the book. I would have liked to see more of the actual dreams, but we never got those really, just brief descriptions of them. I did enjoy the main story though and thought that it was well written. I have a few complaints though.

First and foremost, the book definitely shows it's age. The story is set in 2002, though it never states this specifically you can infer it from information in the book. The "future" (the book was written in 1971) is a bleak hippie's worst nightmare. From 1971, when the book was released, to 2002 the world has:
1) Become overpopulated (at 7 billion, our current population) making food scarce, urban populations out of control, and housing and basic utilities have become communal affairs. this also has caused temporary "trial marriages" to be the norm.
2) Been devastated by man. Greenhouse gases from cars have melted the polar ice caps, caused a permanent haze to envelop the earth and scoured the earth with barren patches. Also, San Francisco was buried in garbage before it was enveloped by the sea.
3) Been destroyed by nuclear war, before George stopped it 4 years before the story begins.
4) become drug dependent. People constantly need drugs to operate normally, there are even pharmacy vending machines in the future.
The over population thing is interesting as it has direct impacts on the story but the rest is political drivel of the early 70's. It took away from my enjoyment of the story somewhat. At times the ridiculousness of the situation the "future" is in made me laugh out loud.
George Orr's "revelation" at the end of the novel which allows him to submit to not dreaming and helps him stop Haber's nightmare doesn't really make any sense. He all of a sudden just feels right? And I guess you are supposed to infer that the aliens helped him because he learned some weird words to say just before sleeping after he got a Beatles record from one of the aliens? What? It really doesn't make much sense. Maybe I missed something and you guys can fill me in.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Cameron Recommends: Watership Down


Wait, what? Cameron is recommending something that is somewhat considered classic literature and not some weird fantasy? Yes, yes I am. 
So I read Watership Down by Richard Adams, all the way back in 7th grade. It was among the list of books I could read for my English class and this one looked like it had the least potential for becoming a headrest. 




( A sidenote here: I didn't really read much in middle school and high school I became a reader later in life. I mean I read a little bit, when I had to or when something really interested me. I wasn't against reading, it just wasn't a very high priority. I wish I had really gotten into it earlier in life. )

So I picked this one up and really ended up enjoying it. Watership Down is the story of a group of rabbits who leave their home warren, or community, when Fiver, one of the rabbits, has a vision of terrible things to come. His brother Hazel leads Fiver and their friends to leave, being unable to convince everyone else of the danger. They have a few adventures along the way before meeting up with another rabbit warren. This one has several weird customs and a twisted sense of community. I won't give away what happens but it is interesting. They leave and eventually find Watership Down and decide to settle down there. Although Watership Down is a peaceful habitat, Hazel realizes there are no does (female rabbits), thus making the future of the warren uncertain. With the help of a seagull named Kehaar, they locate a nearby warren, Efrafa, which is overcrowded and has many does. Hazel sends a small embassy to Efrafa to present their request for does. While waiting for the group to return, Hazel and Pipkin, another rabbit, scout the nearby Nuthanger Farm to find two pairs of hutch rabbits there; Hazel leads a raid on the farm the next day, returning with two does and a buck. When the emissary returns, Hazel and his rabbits learn Efrafa is a police state led by the despotic General Woundwort, and the four rabbits dispatched there manage to return with little more than their lives intact. While there they found a group of does who desperately want to be free of Efrafa and they decide on a daring rescue/escape plan. 

I know, I know, it sounds weird but it is really good. I highly recommend it! One thing though, don't watch the movie. It is creepy and weird. originally it was marketed as a 'family film' but it is actually somewhat bloody. Skip the movie, just read the book. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Cameron Recommends: Coraline (The Book and Movie)

Wow guys, I was doing really well there for a while, posting every 2 weeks. Now this will be the first post in just over a month. I'm sorry, more to myself than to anyone else. I really do enjoy writing these posts.

So this time I am writing about a book I just read, Neil Gaiman's Coraline. Coraline is the story of a little girl that has recently moved into an old house that has been split up into several different apartments. Downstairs are two old ladies you used to work on the stage. Upstairs is a strange man that is training a mouse circus. And next door is an empty apartment. In Coraline's apartment there is a parlor that her parents use to put their late grandma's fancy (and uncomfortable) furniture in. In that parlor Coraline finds a door that used to go into the rest of the house, but now just opens to a brick door. Later, Coraline wanders out to find that the door opens up into a replica of her own home, well almost. The replica seems better, more fun, but there is something . . . off about it. There she meets her Other Mother, a more beautiful version of her mother but with buttons for eyes. After that she embarks on an adventure to save her real parents, the souls of three lost children, and herself.

This book is short, you can read it in a single sitting (I read it in two sittings). I really liked it. I had seen the movie that was based off the book years ago and could remember a little bit of it and that I kind of liked it. I ended up finding the movie for really cheap and bought it. I loved the movie this time around. It has a very different feel to it. Some people have criticized the book and the movie as being a little bit too scary for kids. I disagree. I watched an interesting interview with Neil Gaiman where he talked about the reception of the book and the movie. He said that in England it's been a huge success and people have loved it. In America, he receives a little more criticism about it being too scary. He attributed it to a fundamental difference in culture, stating that in England there is a tradition of scarier fairy tales and things for kids. In his opinion, kids like to be a little scared, because it gives them the opportunity to reach and grab their parents hand and know they are there for them. I like that reasoning. The image of holding my future child during a slightly scary movie or story is something I look forward to. This is definitely a book that I would read to my child and then let them watch the movie. I really liked it.

As for book versus movie. I actually think this is one of those rare occasions that the movie does it a little better. The book is rather short and if you translated everything from the book to the movie, it would only be 45 minutes long. So the movie adds a character, embellishes some of the scenes and adds a little to the story line. The one thing that the book does better is showing that Coraline is afraid, but decides to act anyway. That is the real moral of the book, that it's okay to be scared but don't let that stop you from acting. The movie still portrays this but since we don't have the internal thoughts of Coraline it isn't as apparent. My friend also made an interesting observation about the movie. In the movie, Coraline keeps going through the door, even though things don't seem quite right. My friend likened this to addiction, any kind of harmful addiction, how it seems to be good but it isn't and people keep going back despite the red flags. I thought that was interesting. One other thing that I love about the movie are the colors. They did an AMAZING job with the colors of the film. It is so vibrant and they use color to show emotion and other things. I loved it. Watch the movie, read the book. I don't think you'll regret it.

As always feel free to share your feelings with me. What do you think? Do you agree with me or disagree? Is this too scary a book for kids? Let me know in the comments!